Talcott F. Buck was a New Yorker who had travelled the world and ended up in Texas. He loved the place and after working and living here for six years, wrote a guide book, “Texas — the place to live!” It encouraged other northerners to come here and, especially, get in the cattle business. The book didn’t sell very well, perhaps because it came out in 1860, a time when any Yankees planning to come to Texas had on a U.S. Army uniform. Copano Bay Press in Ingleside found a rare edition and is selling copies. Readers will learn all about stock driving, different routes to Texas, how to find a location, beef packing and more. Fascinating, but it needs an update. So, here are a few hints for newcomers and those contemplating moving here.
Be prepared to pay more for a U-Haul coming in than customers pay going out, because there is far more incoming traffic. Actually, U-Haul named Texas the nation’s number one growth state for 2017, marking the second consecutive year we nabbed the top spot. Also, if you are headed for Marfa or Corpus Christi, “Welcome to Texas” signs on the borders don’t mean your trip is almost over. On I-10 westbound at the border with Louisiana is a TxDOT sign: “El Paso 831.” That gives you a clue. El Paso is closer to California than to Orange. The town of Dalhart is closer to six other state capitals than it is to Austin. We have 254 counties, the most of any state. That means we have 254 county court houses, including some of the best and worst looking buildings in America. Pecos held the world’s first rodeo, July 4, 1883. Texas is also first in executions.
Here are a few do’s. Always take off your Stetson indoors. NRG Stadium and Minute Maid Park are exceptions. It’s pronounced ROW-dee-oh, not row-DAY-o like that fancy street in Beverly Hills. Do get a “Trump in ‘20” bumper sticker. It’s safer. Learn expressions like, “Come sit rat cheer.” “Ahm fixin’ to go over yonder.” And: “Yew tock funny.” Do get a Stetson.
A few don’ts. Don’t run up your Michigan or Ohio State flag in your front yard. When the Boston Red Sox are in town, don’t cheer for them against the Astros. You’re on our turf now, Yankee. Don’t begin a sentence with, “The way we did it back in Detroit….” This ain’t Detroit. (Ain’t is perfectly acceptable if you know better.) Don’t think you are being original by saying: “Houston, we have a problem.”
That phrase has been worn to death. Besides, it’s not accurate. The crew of the Apollo 13 moon flight reported a major technical problem back to their Houston base, saying, “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” Even the movie, “Apollo 13,” got it wrong. But it is true that Houston was the first word from the moon, although the space center was actually in Clear Lake City at the time. Don’t say, “Gig ‘em, Aggies” in Austin or “Hook ‘em, horns” in College Station. Don’t walk into a cantina and shout, “Draw!” If you use your directional signals, everyone will know you’re new here. Don’t squat while wearing spurs. Don’t mess with Texas.
Some myths. No, Texas did not join the Union by treaty. It was by a Congressional Joint Resolution. No, Texas is not the only state whose flag can be raised as high as the Stars and Stripes. Any state can. But, yes, we can be divided into five states, which would give us five Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn. No one wants that. The official state song is not “The Eyes of Texas,” but it should be. It is a myth that in Texas, “gun control” means holding it with both hands. Also, it is not true that the official state motto is “Shoot Friendly.”
Odd facts you should know so you won’t make a fool of yourself. Round Rock is not a dance. In April 1976, Houston’s Glenwood Cemetery was the scene for the funeral of Howard Hughes, at that time the richest person on Earth. It was attended by16 people. All were family members except for two doctors who’d been with Hughes days earlier. New data from the National Weather Service shows that a weather station near Nederland, about 10 miles north of Port Arthur, received 60.58 inches of rain from Hurricane Harvey.
Another weather station, about five miles to the southeast of Nederland near Groves, registered 60.54 inches during the storm. Both are records for America. Harvey was bad, but no record. The worst natural disaster in U.S. history was in 1900, caused by a hurricane, in which over 8,000 lives were lost on Galveston Island.
About our state government: Our legislators meet in the nation’s largest state capitol, naturally, every two years to debate and vote on transgender school bathrooms. Nothing else seems to matter. Our governor is Greg Abbott, who calls out the Texas State Guard to keep an eye on the U.S. Army and prevent a military coup. Our lieutenant governor is Dan Patrick, the official state demagogue. If you want to get elected, be sure to have an R by your name on the ballot. Democratic candidates have their face on the sides of milk cartons and have not won a statewide election since 1994. Their latest hope is to topple Ted Cruz with Beto O’Rourke, although many voters think Beto is the Longhorns’ mascot.
Other important items: Houston is named for the Hero of San Jacinto and first president of Texas. Austin is named for “the father of Texas.” Dallas is named for a football team. Mexia is pronounced, mah-HAY-ya. Refugio is ree-FUR-ee-oh. Port Arthur is full of Cajuns.
Call it port ar-TURE. Fort Worth is called West of Arlington. This should update Talcott F. Buck’s guide to Texas, although his advice on stock driving is still timely.
Ashby is an oldcomer at firstname.lastname@example.org